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US Announces Guantanamo Detainee Release

FILE - Dawn arrives at the now closed Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, Nov. 21, 2013. A former al-Qaida militant who wrote a diary about life at Guantanamo Bay has been released from the detention center.

A prisoner from Yemen at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been released and transferred to the West African nation of Cape Verde.

The Pentagon announced the transfer of Shawqi Awad Balzuhair on Sunday, noting that a review determined that his detention was no longer necessary "to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States."

A statement said the U.S. is grateful to Cape Verde " for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility."

Sunday's release lowers the number of remaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to 59. Twenty of those remaining have been approved for release.

U.S. President Barack Obama had sought to close the detention center but faced opposition from many Republican lawmakers as well as some fellow Democrats.

During the presidential election campaign, President-elect Donald Trump had vowed to keep the prison open.

“Time is running out for President Obama to fulfill his promise to close Guantánamo. He now has less than 50 days to finish the job and close the door or he risks opening the floodgates for President-elect Trump," said Amnesty International USA’s Security & Human Rights Program Senior Campaigner Elizabeth Beavers.

VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report